CES 2020: Conference Sessions Cover Big Ideas and Details

More than 300 conference sessions and 1,100 speakers across 22 different tracks offer first-person insight into the universe of topics to be featured at CES 2020 this week in Las Vegas. As the world’s largest showcase of tech innovation, CES gathers leaders and experts to share the latest developments in products and policies. This year’s lineup of SuperSessions captures the zeitgeist of the market as it advances from an imagined future to real issues, opportunities and challenges. ETC will report on many of the sessions most relevant to media and entertainment. Continue reading CES 2020: Conference Sessions Cover Big Ideas and Details

Deloitte Predicts 5G Will Spark Boom of Smart Home Devices

A new Deloitte study, “Connectivity and Mobile Trends Survey,” found that current U.S. households own “an average of 11 connected devices, including seven with screens to view content.” Deloitte vice-chair/U.S. telecom and media and entertainment leader Kevin Westcott declared that, after AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon roll out 5G, we’ll see “a significant increase in connected devices.” The study further found that 67 percent of consumers plan to upgrade to 5G-compatible smartphones when they become available. Continue reading Deloitte Predicts 5G Will Spark Boom of Smart Home Devices

Federal Agency Reveals Bias in Facial Recognition Systems

The National Institute of Standards and Technology reported that most commercially available facial recognition systems — often used by police departments and federal agencies — are biased. The highest error rate involved Native American faces, but African-American and Asian faces were incorrectly identified 10 to 100 times more than Caucasian faces. The systems also had more difficulty identifying female faces and falsely identified older people up to 10 times more than middle-aged adults. Continue reading Federal Agency Reveals Bias in Facial Recognition Systems

Multiple Bugs Made Zoom Hardware Susceptible to Hackers

In July, security firm Forescout discovered that DTEN touchscreen smart TVs, one of video conference service Zoom’s “certified hardware providers,” can be hacked to allow evildoers to bug conference rooms and capture video feeds and whiteboard notes. A two-week study of the DTEN D5 and D7 connected displays revealed five bugs, three of which have been patched but two of which remain. After Forescout disclosed the flaws to DTEN, it decided to go public to raise awareness of the security threat. Continue reading Multiple Bugs Made Zoom Hardware Susceptible to Hackers

Facebook’s AI Technique Deletes 32 Billion Fake Accounts

Facebook has been under fire for abuse on its platform, although chief executive Mark Zuckerberg often said that its AI tools have been successful at diminishing such problems. It turns out that he’s right: Facebook’s recent Community Standards Enforcement Report revealed that it removed 32+ billion fake accounts between April and September, compared to “just over 1.5 billion” during the same period last year. Largely responsible for the improvement is deep entity classification (DEC), a machine learning framework. Continue reading Facebook’s AI Technique Deletes 32 Billion Fake Accounts

TikTok Catapults to Level of Facebook, Instagram, YouTube

TikTok has exceeded 1.5 billion downloads — half of them in the past year — and, in the process, has become a genuine competitor of Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Chinese AI firm ByteDance, owner of TikTok, is valued at $75 billion, one of the world’s most valuable startups. The company is reportedly looking into an IPO in Hong Kong in 2020. Now that it has commanded widespread attention, ByteDance is also under scrutiny over how it stores personal data and if it follows orders from the Chinese government to censor content. Continue reading TikTok Catapults to Level of Facebook, Instagram, YouTube

FTC Reportedly Considering an Injunction Against Facebook

The Federal Trade Commission is contemplating a preliminary injunction against Facebook over antitrust issues related to its integration of apps and whether they work with competitors. The injunction could prevent Facebook from further integrating apps, and possibly reverse past integration as a step to breaking up the company. An injunction would require a majority vote of the five-member FTC. Prominent antitrust experts have presented a plan to separate Facebook from recent acquisitions Instagram and WhatsApp. Continue reading FTC Reportedly Considering an Injunction Against Facebook

Facebook Advances Encryption Plans For Messaging Apps

Although U.S. Attorney General William Barr has advocated against encryption, Facebook is advancing its plans to add the technology to all its messaging platforms. Barr wants Facebook to allow at least some government access to those platforms, in the name of public safety. WhatsApp chief Will Cathcart and Messenger head Stan Chudnovsky responded to Barr that, “undermining encryption in their products for law enforcement would create a ‘backdoor’ vulnerability that malicious actors also could leverage to harm users.” Continue reading Facebook Advances Encryption Plans For Messaging Apps

Comparison of Biometric Data Use, Storage in 50 Countries

The use of biometrics — and the resulting data — are growing exponentially. Pro-consumer website Comparitech analyzed 50 different countries to create a more detailed picture of where and why biometrics are collected and how the data is being stored. Although the U.S. is one of the countries whose biometric collection is “extensive and invasive,” in related news, the Department of Homeland Security mothballed a plan to require facial recognition screening for every person before leaving or entering the country. Continue reading Comparison of Biometric Data Use, Storage in 50 Countries

Huawei Fights Back Against Critics, Loses Approval at Home

Huawei Technologies has been on a charm offensive to convince the United States and other Western countries that it is not the bad player suggested by legislators and regulators. Now the company is lodging lawsuits against its critics, including a defamation complaint in France against a journalist who said Huawei is controlled by the Chinese government. At the same time, closer to home, Huawei’s reputation is suffering a hit that began with a hair-raising story a former employee posted online. Continue reading Huawei Fights Back Against Critics, Loses Approval at Home

Republicans Issue Draft of Federal Data Privacy Legislation

Senate Commerce Committee chair Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi) proposed draft legislation that he said will support tough protections for consumer data and address the concerns of Democrats. Last week, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington), the Committee’s top Democrat, proposed a data privacy law. The idea, Wicker continued, is to create a national privacy law that will override state privacy laws passed by California and other states. He and others believe state laws will create an unwieldy patchwork. Continue reading Republicans Issue Draft of Federal Data Privacy Legislation

Huawei’s New Flagship Smartphone Contains No U.S. Parts

In the wake of the Trump administration’s ban on the sale of U.S. technology to China, smartphone manufacturer Huawei turned to other sources. UBS and Fomalhaut tore apart the Chinese company’s Mate 30, which debuted in September, and determined it did not contact a single U.S. component. U.S. companies Intel and Qualcomm, among others, were prevented from shipping chips and other smartphone technology. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross began granting export licenses for some goods to be shipped to China last month. Continue reading Huawei’s New Flagship Smartphone Contains No U.S. Parts

Democrats Introduce New Online Privacy Rights Legislation

The Consumer Online Privacy Rights Act (COPRA) is a stalled bipartisan effort to protect consumers’ rights to privacy and prevent companies from hiding what they are doing with user data. To reinvigorate the debate, a group of Democrats, led by Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington), top Democrat in the Senate Commerce Committee, introduced their version of the federal privacy law. “[Privacy rights] should be like your Miranda rights — clear as a bell as to what they are and what constitutes a violation,” she said. Continue reading Democrats Introduce New Online Privacy Rights Legislation

Apple Chief Tim Cook Calls For National Data Regulations

Apple chief executive Tim Cook stated that, because tech companies haven’t self-policed their use of data, “it’s time to have rigorous regulation.” Although he also warned that regulators are too focused on breaking up the Big Tech companies, he admitted that “if one of the companies is found to be a monopoly, and regulators can prove they’ve abused that monopoly power, a breakup might be necessary.” Pew Research reported that about 60 percent of Americans believe their data is being collected on a daily basis. Continue reading Apple Chief Tim Cook Calls For National Data Regulations

YouTube’s New Video Policy Places the Onus on Creators

Beginning in January 2020, YouTube will begin enforcement of a new policy that blocks data collection for content aimed at children. The result for content creators will be lower ad revenue; viewers will no longer see popular features such as comments and end screens. Google confirmed the new policy is the result of a $170 million settlement in September that YouTube reached with the Federal Trade Commission for allegedly violating children’s privacy rights under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Continue reading YouTube’s New Video Policy Places the Onus on Creators

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